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The most powerful way to think about money | Paula Pant

Financial expert Paula Pant explains how you can afford anything, but not everything.

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It’s oh-so-easy to look at shiny, quickly rewarding options for your money as a ticket to financial independence. A big hit on the stock market; a hockey sticking cryptocurrency; an app that can put you on the path to easy street. But truly building financial independence is a life-long process, says Paula Pant, the host of the Afford Anything podcast.

Think of your finances like a tree. While the leaves and fruit are grabby and exciting, they aren’t where the tree’s strength lies: that’s in the roots. So too do healthy finances begin from a core base: figuring out what you value most, what you truly want to afford.

From there, you can make the long term plans to see that come to fruition. With a stable, value-driven approach and some discipline, a world of freedom can open before you. You may not be able to buy everything, but you can buy anything.

0:00 Afford anything (not everything)
1:03 First principles thinking
2:30 Financial independence
3:35 Simple steps to independence
4:31 The 20% rule
5:18 Survive a scary economy

Read the video transcript ►


About Paula Pant:
Paula Pant is the host of the Afford Anything podcast, an award-winning show with more than 24 million downloads. It was named by the New York Times as one of “7 Podcasts Your Wallet Will Love.”

She is also the founder of Afford Anything, a personal finance brand with more than 75,000 newsletter subscribers.

She is a Knight-Bagehot Business and Economics Journalism Fellow at Columbia University.

Pant is frequently featured in financial media including Money Magazine, the Washington Post,, CNBC, Fortune, Marie Claire, Marketplace Money, Men’s Health, Real Simple, Outside Magazine, Cosmopolitan, the New York Times, and more. She’s spoken at the “Talks at Google” series and guest lectured at Georgetown University. She lives in New York City.


Read more of our stories on personal finance:
Gamification: can video games change our money habits?
5 realistic ways to save money, according to experts
How to become a millionaire


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29 thoughts on “The most powerful way to think about money | Paula Pant”

  1. FI makes regular people just get lazy and less productive. That’s so called ‘retirement’. People love retirement, but after you retire, now what? Just travel around, see your grand children, and waiting for the end of your life? That’s dumb.

  2. The biggest problem with this approach I think is that your values and your philosophy of life changes as you get older and gather more experiences. If you start thinking bottom up like this, you might miss out on the things that matter to you now, at this moment!

  3. Financial literacy and wealth creation need to be taught and taken more seriously the gap example is simple to comprehend and execute. I love the fact she mentions it is important to understand the reason why someone used to overspend. Growing up in a overconsumption society does not help but through critical thinking and sincere reflection, those bad habits can be stopped for the greater good.

  4. This a great video, I learn alot watching your videos and it has been helpful to me. building a steady income is quite difficult for newbies. Thanks to Cynthia M. Levi for improving my portfolio,

    keep up with good videos

  5. Problem: the wife spends too much.
    Our solution: Instacart. Yes, it actually works because she has to pick what she wants without being overwhelmed by the all the options in the store.

  6. a good perspective, but (@ 6:21), "embracing that fear, and using it…" boils down to yes, accepting the fear, but also being influenced in some core way by the fear, which is not sound…imv better to not give in to fear, and instead, continue to be your real self, regardless…specifically, develop a muscle which separates the fear out, and does not allow it to influence your decisions

  7. If you want finances to work like a "tree", then apples of said tree would be the money created by the rich that falls down to the bottom base (that's us), so we can grow our own tree.
    Does that happen? Absolutelly not. That't why finaces are a piramid and not a forest.

  8. None of this or any other advice will have a positive effect if your value of a dollar is dependent and changes if you're broke, getting by, comfortable or wealthy. Its easier to stretch and survive with your last $20 for 2 days than it is to not spend that same $20 in couple hours when you have $500 more in pocket. When you see an obviously very wealthy person holding up the checkout line because cashier shorted them a few cents it's because their value of one dollar remains regardless if it's their last one or they got $10 million more in bank!

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